KEETMANSHOOP - Agriculture, Water and Land Reform Minister, Calle Schlettwein said the government intends to implement a 5 000ha irrigation scheme outside the Neckartal Dam to increase food security and economic development in //Kharas region.
“This scheme should produce a valley of green lush lands where high-value crops like wheat, maize, vegetables and fruits as well as animal fodder can be produced for own consumption and export to other markets if the volumes grown allowed it,” Schlettwein said when he visited the dam last week.
The minister who was in the familiarisation tour to the southern region said the project forms part of the second phase of the development of the Neckartal Dam.
The strategic position of the dam is ideal in that it receives water from catchment areas in the Fish River, being one of the largest sources of water supply in the southern parts of Namibia, he said.
“In light of the need of economic growth in the region, further development of the dam is one of the priority activities government envisage to carry out,” said the minister.
Schlettwein also explained that the construction of the dam was one of the government’s most expensive projects, costing N$5.7 billion for the construction of phase one.
“It will take a lot of efforts to recoup the investment made through the production of food and other economic activities,” he said, adding that the increased cost of phase one of the project largely contributed to the delay in the construction of phase two.
He said funding for the construction of phase two development remains a challenge for the government.
“In light of the current economic climate emanating from the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic, there is currently no budgetary provision for it, Therefore, we should look into public-private partnerships or well-off farmers to come in as investors to kick-start the much-needed development as soon as possible,” said the minister. He also said the time frame for completion of phase two will not be very soon as some other technical issues need to be ironed out first whilst progress can be expected within the next two years.
“This project will be completed step by step, depending on the availability of resources,” Schlettwein concluded.
The Neckartal Dam has a water capacity of 857 000 000km³ and is currently filled up to 10% capacity with its main purpose to feed the envisaged irrigation scheme situated 26km from the dam.
Niilo Kauari, agriculture ministry resident engineer at the dam explained that the reservoir can be filled to its fullest capacity within three above-average rainy seasons.
He added that once phase two is completed, the water volume of 90 000m³ need to be released in the holding dam close to the planned irrigation scheme to become operational. This scheme will be the largest green scheme in Namibia once fully operating.